I remember the day that my little brother came over to my place just before he was to leave for New York state. This was back when we both still lived in Corpus Christi. He wasn't even 20 yet. My parents were still in shock and pissed that he had decided to go to college away from home. My Mom didn't agree with his decision, especially since he was going away with his girlfriend. My father understood, but he wasn't happy either.

He had decided to go to school for veterinary medicine. Dee always loved animals. Young and idealistic, he packed his bags and moved to Buffalo to study. His girlfriend had relatives there who could lend a hand, should the need arise. It would make them both feel less alone.

I knew why he was leaving. And I was glad that he was. Corpus Christi drains a person's will to leave. And before long, if you're not careful, you become part of the scenery. People seem content to stay there and see the same things everyday. Dee wanted to see as much as he could and there was no way he could do it from his bedroom at my parents' house.

I never told him that the day he left, I cried. I cried both tears of joy and sadness. My brother and I had never been apart for very long. In fact, my brother was as much one of "the guys" as all my other friends. I remember him wanting to hang around with me and Bob and Ariel and LeRoy, my closest friends from high school. We'd break his balls and often that courtesy was extended to his friends, Austen, Tim & Miguel. He grew up listening to the music I listened to and watched the movies I watched.

We didn't always get along given the age difference. Ten years between us kept him from going out with me and my friends. But he was always around when I had them over to my parents' house.

Dee was always a good kid. Smart. Crafty. Funny. Passionate. Kind. Slowly, the young, chubby kid who followed me around started to grow up. Little by little he turned the things I gave him into things of his own. He explored books and music and movies developing his own tastes and expanding his individuality.

One year, I used my income tax money to buy him a Super Nintendo. He used to play Street Fighter so often that he eventually could kick someone's ass with just one button. He used to torture a college buddy of mine, Mike, with that trick. Mike would come by to pick me up and head to the bar and Dee would purposely play SF when he'd show up. Mike couldn't resist playing. Dee would taunt him.
"Wanna play?" he'd ask Mike.
"Okay." Mike would reply picking up a controller.
"Pick a button." Dee would say holding up his controller.
Dee would repeat it. "Pick a button."
"Cause I'm gonna kick your ass with just one button." Dee would giggle.
Mike was locked in. He couldn't play games worth a shit and the fact that this high school kid was teasing him just made him want to play more. And no matter what button Mike picked- kicking or punching -Dee would always kick his ass and send my into a huff and out the door.

One of the loves we both shared was our love for Apple computers. My Dad had gotten us an Apple IIc. It had a whopping 512k and a crappy little green screen. We owned that computer for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, we had to upgrade to the Mac Classic II. Then the iMac. In college, I used the LC and the Performa. An outfit in town called Computer Command Corporation was the only authorized service center and retail outlet. The original Apple Store. Dee made friends with Rene, one of the service techs who's brain I'd often pick. I knew Apple computers backwards and forwards. Dee wasn't far behind. He ended up working for Computer Command. That's where his love for Mac's began.

When he was in Buffalo, he had decided against veterinary medicine and wandered from career to career trying to find his niche. He always loved Apple, but there was no place for him to explore job opportunities. He worked for Pottery Barn, Toys R Us and Blockbuster successfully moving up corporate ladder at each place. And then he found out the new incarnation of the Mac retail shops, the Apple Store, was going to build a branch in Buffalo. His first attempt to get into the store was unsuccessful. But that didn't deter him. Eventually, he was able to get his foot in the door and he realized his ultimate dream. He was working for Apple Computers. I remember when he told me that he had been hired. He was ecstatic. He left most of the other jobs, save one, I think, and started on the road to his dream career.

Now, maybe this is where his idealism served him well. Anyone who knows the story of Apple knows that it was the idealistic dreams of Steve Jobs that made the company what it has become. His knowledge of the products and his devotion to the brand made him the perfect salesman. He was charismatic and handsome and well spoken and that didn't hurt him either. 

He had already grown to know more than I EVER knew about Apples. And after I had left Fort Smith, AR, to take the job at Rumbo, he had begun to make plans to transfer himself to the new store that was opening here in San Antonio. Moving here would afford him the chance to start to make his charge towards bigger and better things. And it allowed him to be closer to me and to Mom & Dad.

Today, Dee is a Genius. In all senses of the word. He bleeds Apple. I dare ANYONE to love, honor and respect the silver fruit like he does. For Christ's sake, he's got Mac logos tattooed on his arms. A gift from me. He has traveled to the Mother Ship, the company headquarters in Cupertino, CA. He repairs machines with lightning speed and knows the layout of his store like no one's business.

But more importantly, my little brother has, well, ceased to be little. He is a giant among men. He still has the same fire for his job that he had when he was a chubby little kid punching the noisy keys of the IIc. His tastes in music and film have evolved. But the core of the boy who loved playing video games and basketball and grilling in the backyard haven't changed. It has only gotten better with age.

Its hard for me to be mad at him when I can't get him to answer my calls or text messages. I know what his life must be like because I was there once too. He hasn't quite found himself yet, not completely. In a few more years, things will be clearer to him because I know they were clear to me. So I write this now to tell my little brother how much I love him and that I'll always be here for him. I write this to tell him, if he doesn't already know or refuses to believe, that Dad is just as proud of him as he ever was of me. That Mom champions his every move, no matter how crazy it may seem.

Happy Birthday, kid. You got me in your corner now and always. I love you.


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